FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS — Effingham Post 120 saw its 3-1 lead slip away in the fourth inning in a must-win game Tuesday afternoon against Steeleville Post 480. But after the momentum swung against them, Carter Hayes' big swing brought the momentum back to Effingham for good, as his solo home run gave Effingham a spark on its way to a 6-4 win. "I just kind of stood back and watched on this one," said Post 120 coach Brian Hayes. "I like to see kids play, and when they come out and do it on their own, it's fun to watch."The win keeps Effingham's season alive after a first-round loss to Fairview Heights. Effingham takes on Belleville at 1 p.m. today, after Belleville was downed by Murphysboro Tuesday.Steeleville had the first run of the game off Clayton Ruckman, as Caleb Arbeiter led off the first with a triple and came around to score on a Boyd Miles sacrifice fly one inning later. Post 120 came back to work in the third inning, tallying three runs after four straight runners reached. Carter Hayes drove in two runs with a flare to right field, as Nate McDonald used a nifty slide to avoid Miles at the plate. Devin Wright drove in Drew Levitt one batter later with a groundout to short. Steeleville put runners on first and second with one out against Ruckman, following a leadoff double in the fourth by Darin Winkelman and a one-out walk to Jake Lockhead. A ground to first didn't score the runs, but a clutch two-run single by Lyle Diercks tied the game. Hayes came up with the clutchest hit of the day, hitting a screaming line drive over the left field fence with two outs in the fifth inning to give Effingham the lead. They'd never look back, improving as the game went on."It's a loose group," Brian Hayes said. "They're not real intense, which can work for you and work against you."Post 120 struck again in the sixth, when Devin Mayfield reached on a walk, advanced to third on an error and scored on an RBI groundout by Trenton Frey. Ruckman cruised from there, allowing a run in the eighth inning on an RBI by George Kuhlman. He pitched a complete game, allowing four runs on seven hits despite walking five batters. He said he improved as he got stretched out in the balmy 90-degree heat. "My arm got loosened up a lot better after the first three innings, and I was feeling it a lot," he said. "Just throw strikes, keep the fastball down and try get them off-balance with the curveball."Effingham's sixth and final run came in strange fashion. Preston Walker reached on an error, and immediately took off to steal second with no out and Frey at the plate.Walker beat a bang-bang throw to second, as the throw beat him but he slid under the tag. After being tagged, however, Walker began to jog off the field as he assumed he was out. Eventually, he was clued in and began sprinting to third, and Steeleville second baseman Diercks gave him a gift, throwing ball too tall for A.J. Jeffers to reel in. Walker kept running, and beat out another close play at the plate to turn an out into a run. "He was out twice and he scored," Brian Hayes said of Walker's baserunning adventure. "He said the tag kind of came up the chin and hit him in the nose, it upset him a bit and he didn't really listen to the call and walked off."Hayes went 2-for-5 with three RBIs and the home run. McDonald was the lone other Post 120 player with more than one hit.
Effingham 003 011 010 6 9 0Steeleville 100 200 010 4 7 3WP - Ruckman LP - Venable
Effingham: McDonald (2-4, R, BB); Dr. Levitt (1-3, R, BB); Hayes (2-5, HR, 3 RBI, R, SB); Wright (1-3, RBI, BB); Di. Levitt (1-5, SB); Frey (1-5, RBI); Traub (1-4, R)